In this moderately-informed baseball fan/ amateur writer’s opinion, S.I.’s Jon Heyman does a good enough job covering baseball. Unlike the Peter Kings and—to a lesser extent —Anthony Witrados of the sports journalism world, Heyman seems to usually use his media access, his connections and years of experience to produce interesting, informative, and accurate pieces.
But even the good writers phone one in from time to time. Heyman’s latest finds him “Rating every team’s winter activity” and, in doing so, missing a sizable portion of “activity” that would’ve affected his ratings.
Heyman’s most glaring (and Right Field Bleachers relevant) example of action omission lies in his brief summation of Milwaukee’s winter activities.
Realizing coverage of items like A-Rod’s misbehavior, Manny’s uncertain destinations, and continual maintenance of a working knowledge of each team trumps coverage of impactful blips like Eduardo Morlan, Craig Counsell and the like, I figured the glut of Brewers transactions would be undervalued in national, mainstream media lists such as this.
I'm not sure what I thought I'd read from Heyman. Maybe I just expected better; maybe I just wanted Heyman to list more ingredients for the recipe to make a team considered a “Non-Winner” with the 24th best offseason in the bigs. But I know I didn’t want this:
“24. Brewers: They caught a tough break when the losses of both Sabathia and Ben Sheets netted them only one second-round pick (for Sabathia). Braden Looper should help, but it’s hard to imagine what they see in Eric Gagne again. Their fine nucleus of everyday players is going to have to do a lot of meshing.”
Allow me to deconstruct these three sentences with my patented Four-way Heyman Bust.
First, the Brewers are ranked No. 24? You’re telling me the Padres, Tigers, Cardinals, Reds, and Cubs (among more less obvious misplacements) all had better offseasons than Milwaukee.
And furthermore, Cincy and the Bear Jrs were listed as “Winners.” No team who has Willy Taveras as the crown jewel of its offseason can be called a winner.
The Cubs had the worst offseason as far as additions and stupid trades—but, as he wrote, ”they’re already the favorites to import Jake Peavy at midseason,” so i guess because of something that might happen in six months, their winter (the season we’re presently in) in a resounding success.
Secondly, yeah, it sucked losing CC Sabathia (not so much Ben Sheets) and the way the draft pick compensation worked out was a real boner-shrinker, but Brain Shouse (ever heard of him?) actually brought the Brews an additional sandwich round pick—and made room for younger and more talented LOOGYs in Mitch Stetter and the previously mentioned R.J. Swindle.
Losing out on draft picks was out of Milwaukee’s control; was this list supposed to rate the most unfortunate offseasons?
Acquiring Braden Looper will be a bigger boon to the team this season than anyone has taken note of so far. He’s a scantly-paid veteran who’s been consistent. He’s going to be the rotation’s leader, saving its fate from being left to a stem-cell-opposing hack whose sucking $25 million from a limited payroll between 4.2-inning outings and shitty restaurant openings.
Plus, Yovani Gallardo is back and healthy, and there’s depth with the re-signing of Chris Capuano and the recent SP moves (not listed above with the four recognizable names in the S.I. piece).
As for Gagne, I’m sure Milwaukee saw a once-great pitcher with something left to prove, the chance to make what was a regrettable one-year, $10 million mistake into an (at worst) two-year, $11.5 million so-so stint.
Additionally, he hasn’t cracked camp yet. There are many cheaply-acquired and quality relievers to compete with before Gagne can make the roster. And all that new talent isn't even mentioned in Heyman's ranking.
Also not mentioned is the acquisition of Trevor Hoffman, the all-time saves leader. But according to Heyman, his new role as closer is somehow overshadowed by the minor-league, non-roster invite deal Gagne signed.
Maybe Heyman was penning a gripping 800-worder about Jon Garland or Adam Dunn thinking about possibly signing somewhere while that was going all down.
The final sentence is possibly the most uniformed, insulting of the bunch.
Brewers fans must certainly have spent the offseason worrying about the cohesion of their young team who failed to win more than 90 games last season and just made the club's first postseason in 26 years.
In 2009, Looper will be the only new player on the "everyday" roster. However, Heyman seems to think that a nucleus of players that have not only been in Milwaukee together for a few seasons, but also came up through the minor league system together may have trouble "meshing."
The lack of knowledge about the makeup of this team is apparently and somewhat appalling.
Again, I respect this guy’s work, and maybe much of my disdain for these ratings rests in my biased view as a fan. Maybe he merely discounted the smaller moves because he didn’t seem them as telling of either positive or negative things to come.
No matter what led to this list, I just hope the next time Jon Heyman makes a list, he checks it twice.